To really understand...for you to really get the meaning of the story I want to tell, we have
to go back. Way back, four years to my final year at Hogwarts. After I defeated
Voldemort, after my two best friends were killed, after almost everyone I truly loved
disappeared mysteriously or died fighting at my side. And my return to school, but scar
never burning anymore, and I was empty.

Everyone said I looked paler than usual, thinner. Lavender, her pretty face marred with a
long scar, asked me if I had been eating, when she saw every day that I skipped meals, or
else pushed my food around, not caring. The school had dwindled to two tables of mixed
houses. the Slytherins still kept to their own circle, but they now only took up maybe a
quarter of one long table. I noticed changes in them, too. More so, even, than in people
from other houses. For the Slytherins weren't just battle-scarred, they were oddities. The
few Slytherins that hadn't crossed over to the dark side were sore thumbs, no one had
expected any of them to remain at school, let alone fight on the good side.

And the one that stood out most of all, Draco Malfoy. I took to watching him. He was
taller than the last time I'd seen him in Cheltingham, half-carrying a muggle, his robes
ragged. He'd handed the injured muggle over to the medics, and I caught his eye. He had
nodded, then ran off, wand drawn, as an explosion rocked a muggle building one block

He was broader in the shoulders, his hair was longer, and his eyes were darker. He carried
that haunted look we *all* had. I felt guilt with every glance at their faces. I was meant for
this torture, for dealing with the forces no one else should have had to see. But they had
been dragged into a war that picked off several of their professors, one by one. They were
like the holocaust victims we studied in muggle school when I was young. They would
never look the same, I and I knew it was my fault.

New professors, straight out of school most of them, hailed from Durmstrang,
Bauxbatons, and an American school of wizardry called Hamilton. The only remaining
professors were Snape and McGonnagal. And while Dumbledore lived, he would never
return to Hogwarts.

But really, I didn't notice my new teachers, or the transfer students from Hamilton that
had been shipped to Hogwarts while repairs on half their school were being done. I really
didn't notice anyone but him.

Draco and I hardly talked during the war. We had to reason to, we were busy fighting and
I was especially busy working with Ron and Hermione. But he did speak to me at their
funeral. He stood next to me after the service, after I was alone to stare at their fresh
graves--this was just after the war had ended, after we could *have* funerals--and he

They loved you. More than anyone has loved anything, they loved you.

And I had looked up at him and I tried to say something, anything. But the words caught,
and I could only choke on my own tears and pain and nod.

Then, at school, I remembered those words, and I watched him. I never expected to
actually speak to him again, until he appeared one night in the astronomy tower. I had
been going there, night after night, remembering sneaking up to set Norbert free,
remembering classes with my friends...hating myself. I didn't think anyone knew. But then,
one cold night in January, he appeared like a pale ghost in the doorway.

Potter, what do you think you're doing, it's freezing. He muttered, stepping into the
circular room, arms hugged to his robed body. I was seated in an open window, not really
feeling the cold.

What do you want? I demanded, not meaning to sound so accusing, but old habits die
hard I suppose.

What are you doing?

I'm thinking.

What about?

I glared at him then, What do you think?

Draco was silent and I turned back to the window. I thought he had gone, left me to my
inner torment, when I heard his voice, You can't hold on to them forever. It's nearly
been a year.

I was off that window sill in a flash, And what would you know about it?

He didn't flinch or step back, Maybe nothing. But you're a walking skeleton. You're a
shadow, Potter.

Maybe this is what I want. I spat back, but the tears were in my throat already and my
voice was choked. I cursed at myself inwardly, cursed my own weakness, angry that I was
on the verge of tears in front of Draco Malfoy--not my enemy, not my friend.

Is it really?

And I was surprised, because his voice was so soft and he looked so human, and real. I'd
never seen him that way. Cold, spoiled, arrogant, yes. And during the war, I had seen
brave, and intelligent. Never caring. Ever. And this is what set me off, I believe, and those
tears just came.

I just want it to stop. I sobbed, not caring anymore if I looked like an idiot because once
the floodgates opened, there was no closing them, I killed them. Everyone says it's not
my fault but they're wrong. I *killed* my best friends. I hate it, and I want it to go away.

He was closer now, one hand on my shoulder, and maybe he was holding me up, I don't

Can you make it go away? I asked in a whisper, Can anyone make it...

Draco Malfoy wiped the tears off my face, and though I was still sobbing, the saline was
gone from my eyes. He was gentle, and he looked me in the eye. And I repeated my
question Can you make it go away? And I kissed him, hard. I don't know what I was
thinking. Maybe I wasn't thinking at all. Who really knows. But I smashed my lips to his,
and the hand on my shoulder tightened as my tongue found his and he started to kiss
back--before pushing me away.

This isn't what you want. He said gruffly, wiping his mouth.

Yes it is.

No. You want comfort. I can give you that, but I won't. I won't give you the easy way
out, Harry. Draco began to walk away, When it's me you want, when it's not just
comfort and some sick escape...then...then.

I watched him leave, my lips just a little bruised, and I hated myself just a little more.

The only reason I tell you this part--this part that doesn't really make me look good--is
because you need to see. I wanted him first because I needed an out. I wanted him
second...well, that brings me to a month later. I slipped him a note at breakfast. I had been
eating, not a lot, but more than I had before. I was trying, so hard, to go back to what I
had been before, including studying. It wasn't quite working, but it would. The day that I
slipped him the note, I had owled the Ministry about setting up a foundation. I had no idea
what I would do with it yet. Just that it would be called the Granger/Weasley Foundation
and that it would raise money for the rebuilding of what we had lost in the war. It was
something I had been working on since a few days after my embarrassing attack on Draco
in the astronomy tower--which is where I had told him to meet me.

So, that night, at midnight, I waited in the tower. It was cold, colder than that night a little
over four weeks ago. I was dressed in clean clothes, I had attempted at brushing my hair,
and I wasn't brooding. Still thin, still pale. But working on it. Periods of self-loathing
came and went, they still do. But this was a good night, a night when I was going to show
him something.

When Draco showed up, he moved with an uncertainty towards me.

You wanted something?

I said, my mouth suddenly very dry. But I did what I had come to do--I leaned
forward and kissed him lightly on the lips. You said, that when I wanted something other
than comfort, I could...

He laughed. I hadn't heard a laugh in so was beautiful. I did say that didn't I?

You did.

You look better, Potter.

Yes, I know. I replied cockily, and it feels so good not to be mired in a pit of self-pity
and hatred.

He kissed me back, softly, and touched me.

This isn't even the story I want to tell you, but it's important. We made love that night,
and it was...weird. Not at all what one would expect--it was awkward and fumbling and
even he was nervous, which was yet another first for Draco Malfoy. But all the same, I
wanted it, and it was good.

The story I want to tell you, it's about what happened next, it's about what magic does in
that bleary time after a war when good has won but bad still exists. And how it screwed us
both up--again.

But the question is. Do you really want to know?